So, what was this all about? It seemed more effortless than anticipated. Going out to discover whether and how we can set up child trauma centres in the most adverse circumstances on the planet was neither impulsive nor coming from nowhere.
Over the years we had completed research in war trauma zones and disaster areas, and experimented with training that gave me the confidence to ‘push’. For example, even in countries with didactic educational systems, it is absolute nonsense that interactive and practice-based training do not work. Practitioners simply love it, given the opportunity, and have as much to contribute as anywhere else in the world. Most importantly, the Trail Blazer built on longstanding relationships with colleagues and friends for over a decade. This is what really made it easy, i.e. finding the chemistry between what is locally or nationally acceptable, and the strengths of that system; and which elements can be integrated, rather than imported or added, from western practice or science.
Before moving on to the real question of the trail in Asia, Africa and the Middle East (with experience from India, Kenya, Turkey, Qatar and Iran), it was a privilege to soak in the personal benefits too. After careful searching, I had consciously targeted NGOs that were more likely to be effective, but had not realised the extent of impact religious and spritual leaders from all faiths were making (photos attached – whether from Ramkrishna Mission, Islam or Christianity), but also how open-minded they were in accepting or mixing with psychological approaches. Reflecting on the latest advances e.g. of psychological mindfullness in places where these have been practiced for centuries, was a rare opportunity to learn as much as contribute.
Ultimately, this was about both sides of human nature. I witnessed first hand the pain that humans can inflict on others, e.g. after ethnic conflict in Africa; or simply not act to prevent them from suffering such as by looking at rows and rows and rows of young children making their ‘bed’ for the night by the Mumbai railway line. But there was hope too. Mostly, coming from meeting so many who had so little, but were generously giving so much – simple, core human values practiced and proved to the extreme.